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Why do lasagna or pappardelle require a special attachment on pasta machines?

I am just getting into making fresh pasta and have noticed that pasta machine manufacturers make a special attachment for lasagna noodles. Can't lasagna noodles be made from regular sheets of pasta without a special attachment?

Additionally, The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion and Cooking Manual (which I highly recommend) lists lasagna among the pastas to buy (rather than to make at home). This supports the assertion mentioned above, but the book offers no explanation.

What is the difference between lasagna noodles (and their sliced-up cousin, pappardelle) and regular sheets of pasta out of the machine that have been cut into rectangular shapes?

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  1. I have a KA stand mixer with pasta attachments. The basic roller is what is used for lasagne. I roll it as thin as possible (seven is the thinnest I've been able to do on the KA). I didn't know I was doing it wrong :) I'm not sure I understand what "they" are talking about.

    BTW, welcome to CH.

    1. I believe what you're referring to is the pasta extruder add-on, which is completely unnecessary. Just roll your pasta into sheets as normal and cut for lasagna noodles.

      But I completely agree with the suggestion of your book. I've made lasagna with fresh homemade pasta two or three times and found the result to be quite underwhelming, especially for the amount of work put into making the pasta. It simply doesn't hold up to the long oven cooking time like the dried noodles do, and all the subtleties that make fresh pasta so great are completely destroyed.

      As an additional note, I always roll my pasta to one less than the maximum setting (8 out of 9,) I find it results in a better product with more resistance to the bite.

      19 Replies
      1. re: AndrewK512

        If your pasta "doesn't hold up," you may be baking your lasagna too long, Andrew. Are you putting in anything that actually needs to cook? I make mine Bolognese, and my sauces are heated through before I assemble the lasagna. That way, the whole thing just has to heat through.

        1. re: Jay F

          my main problem when making pasta noodles is finding a good way to set them aside while i'm assembling the lasagne. it's all great at the beginning, but at the end, the noodles begin to stick together.... not that that has seemingly made any difference in the taste of the lasagna.

          1. re: deepsouth

            I cook them just a little, then shock them in a large container of cold water. Not ice water, just cold enough to stop them from cooking. Sitting in water, they tend not to stick. And if you're doing it with Bolognese/Besciamella, the extra little bit of wet doesn't matter by the time it comes out of the oven.

            The biggest problem is how much counterspace it all takes up. But your kitchen may be big enough.

            1. re: Jay F

              thanks for that tip! i'll be doing that next time.

              1. re: Jay F

                Here's my counter the last time :)

                 
                1. re: c oliver

                  yum. what kind of noodle is that?

                  i had the most wonderful artichoke lasagna in italy many years ago. no beef. white sauce. artichoke pasta noodles and artichokes, sheets so thin. the whole dish was less than an inch and a half and about eight layers. it was amazing.

                  1. re: deepsouth

                    That's Hazan's Green Lasagne (the green is from spinach). Here's a link:

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/352032

                  2. re: c oliver

                    It also helps me to have an "assistant" during the rolling process. As the pieces started getting longer and thinner, I hand them off to my husband (you don't have to marry someone to make this!). He cuts them if necessary and lays them out. You can see from the photo that if I had to stop and walk around the counter each time, it WOULD be a tedious process.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      True. I almost never roll my own unless I have someone to do it with.

                2. re: deepsouth

                  Deepsouth, thought your might like to try something similar to the next to last photo on this blog to "organize" your "assembly line".....looked pretty clever to me anyway.

                  http://ciaochowlinda.blogspot.com/200...

                  1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                    Love the coat hanger idea. And wouldn't you kill for that counter. Not to mention that HUGE roller.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      I love everything about her setup, but I don't see the huge roller.

                      1. re: Jay F

                        I looked again and, yeah, maybe because it's a closeup and not an attachment but rather stand alone, it just looked bigger at first.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          I have a dowel-like rolling pin now, but I prefer the tapered rolling pin I used to use. I must have lost it in a move. I have had arthritis and repetitive strain injury for about ten years, so I really don't make pasta much anymore, but when I do use my current rolling pin, I guess sense memory tells me how much easier the whole thing would be if I had my old rolling pin.

                          I always make my dough in a cuisinart, too. I've never used semolina, though. I ought to try it.

                          1. re: Jay F

                            I haven't been able to find semolina on the whole gulf coast. Unbelievable.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                metairie, la. about an hour or so away.

                                there is a fresh market in mobile, al. an hour the other direction. the "prime" shopping in the area is sam's wholesale, 20 minutes away.

                              2. re: deepsouth

                                King Arthur Flour has their Baker's Catalog - so many wonderful products - including semolina. I live in upstate NY and mail order from them for ingredients I can't get locally. Here's a link, hope it helps!

                                http://search.kingarthurflour.com/sea...

                3. As others have said, the lasagne addon is completely pointless but I know what you mean as mine advertises it too.

                  I tend to cook the sauce for longer in the saucepan before 'building' teh lasagne, giving it less time in the oven. The fresh lasagne sheets pick up the flavour of the sauces but don't get drowned out completely. Guess that's personal preference though.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: litrelord

                    I make lasagne using Hazan's ragu bolognese which takes pretty much all day to cook (I make 4x and 5x quantities and freeze) and it's the consistency of, say, a Sloppy Joe. So when I'm ready to assemble, that step is already taken care of.

                  2. The attachment you're looking at frills the edges of the lasagna noodles. If you can't live without frilly edges, then you need it. For me, flat edges are just fine.

                    And while the folks at Frankies Spuntino are certainly entitled to their opinion regarding dried noodles, luminaries from Marcella Hazan to Mario Batali to Jamie Oliver recommend rolling your own. (And none of them call for frilly edges, either.)

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      Ah, the mystery is solved! Frilly edges. Who'd a thunk? Tee hee.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        I just bought the individual pasta roller for my KA, not wanting all the other frilly roller stuff. Its done just fine, even for a pretty talented Barbara-Lynch chef that cooked in my home one night. Once you've rolled out sheets, you can do almost anything with them.. just remember, roll them till you start hearing "pops" as the final air bubbles snap as the pasta rolls through..

                        1. re: grant.cook

                          I get to the next to the thinnest setting when they start to tear just a teeny bit. SO good.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            So I can come over to your house for dinner, when?

                            1. re: E_M

                              Not tomorrow. We're having leg of lamb on the grill. My late MIL, who claimed not to like "pasta," loved Hazan's green lasagne. Any time after tomorrow :)

                    2. agree that a special attachment for lasagna or papparadelle is overkill...I do sheets not as thin as possible (I see a theme developing!) and cut papparadelle with a pastry wheel. I think fresh pasta really shines on simpler dishes, like papparadelle with bolognese or fettucine with pesto. I'd think its character would get lost in lasagna.

                      try 1 cup each of AP flour and semolina with four eggs. Process and chill. Roll out not too thin onto a lightly floured board and cut. They don't have to match. mmmmm

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: tim irvine

                        Actually the lasagne I fix is quite simple. I use Hazan's green lasagne and it's pasta, bolognese, bechamel and some grated Parm. It's to die for and I wouldn't fix it if I didn't have the time to make the pasta.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          Now that sounds good and worthy of home made pasta.

                      2. To get back to the question of fresh vs dried, it depends on how you like the texture. If you use fresh pasta it's very easy to end up with soggy lasagna unless you limit yourself to 3 layers of pasta and go easy on the sauce and cheese. If you want deep dish American style lasagna, use dried.

                        On the rare occasions I use home made pasta for lasagna, I make the pasta the day before and dry the sheets overnight. That's the best, but for me not worth the effort unless company is coming.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Zeldog

                          i'll have to remember to write my lasagna recipe down next time i make it (if i have one, i kind of just throw it together). i actually add heavy cream or milk to my lasagna and it's always at least six layers, fresh pasta, and it's never soggy. that's something i picked up from my mom... not sure why it doesn't turn out soggy, but it doesn't... hmmm....

                          1. re: Zeldog

                            I will strongly disagree with you but modify it by saying that I guess it depends on your recipe. The Hazan one posted above has MANY layers, uses fresh pasta and is NEVER soggy. But it's a "light touch" kinda dish. AND has no cheese other than Parm.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              Marcella Hazan is my neighbor in Florida, and her Lasagna is consistently about 1' high with a scant amount of Bechmel/Bolognese Sauce, very simple as it is done in Emilia Romagna, (Bologna).

                          2. Hi,
                            there is no need for the extra attachments. In fact, if you want your sheets a little narrower, just use a pizza cutter and a ruler. But why, just make your sheet narrower. Anyway, no one will be measuring the width of your lasagna/ papardelle noodles, unless they're nuts. I found out the hard way, (ordering the papardelle attachment) that the papardelle and the lasagna attachment are the same width. I should have never ordered the papardelle attachment, because it is the same as the lasagna attachment. What a ripoff!

                            1. I can't find the answer to this anywhere, so Im hoping someone out there in cyberworld can help. I just got my KA pasta rollers and I'm really having fun. I've followed their recommended recipes and so far so good. Is it possible to make the dough ahead of time (like the day before)? Can you freeze the dough for future use, and if possible how would it be stored in fridge (saran wrap)? Thank you so much in advance. E from NJ

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: EDGL

                                It will last several days in the fridge tightly wrapped. Just make sure you don't add iodized salt because the iodine will make the dough start turning grayish after a few hours.

                                (I don't ever add salt to my dough anyway because you can't really taste it. I heavily salt the water instead - 1 tbsp kosher salt per 4 cups of water.)

                                1. re: JetLaggedChef

                                  Thank you for replying to my post. How about freezing the dough? Can that be done? If so, do you just bring it to room temp before rolling out? Thank you in advance and Happy New Year.

                                  1. re: EDGL

                                    I've frozen the cut pasta many times with great results, but I've never tried to freeze the dough. The thing is, it would take longer to let the dough thaw to room temp than it would to make fresh dough.

                                    But I totally understand why you'd want to freeze it because you may not decide which type of pasta you want to make until you're ready to use it.

                                    If you try it, can you let us know how it turns out?

                              2. I want to share a personal experience, so no one else makes this mistake and ends up getting frustrated. I followed the boil after lasagna strips are made and put them in a cold bath. After placing all noodles (a few at a time) into the cold water. They ended up sticking together and ripping apart when I tried to pick them up. I probably should have put in one at a time and then laying out again. I had to put torn ripped up pieces like a jigsaw puzzle in the dish. The good news, the lasagna was still delicious. The bad news I had to throw out the pieces I was going to use for another dish as they were useless. I wonder if I should have just forgone boiling and just do the lasagna with the fresh uncooked noodles? Just a thought. Anyone else have this problem and what they did about it? Thanks.

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: EDGL

                                  I never pre-cook my lasagna noodles when I make them fresh. Instead, I lay them out to dry like leather for a couple of hours before using in the lasagna, then put them right in the lasagna. (If using an egg dough, you probably want to let them dry in the fridge for safety.)

                                  Another note - unless you're making bolognese, I think lasagna tastes much better (and "brighter") if you don't cook the sauce. It's already going to cook in the oven for 30 mins to an hour so the effort of cooking it beforehand is kind of a waste of time.

                                  Learning this from America's Test Kitchen was the best lasagna discovery I've ever made:

                                  http://www.americastestkitchen.com/re...

                                  1. re: JetLaggedChef

                                    http://www.crumblycookie.net/2008/01/...

                                    If you scroll down to the recipe and look at #4, you'll see it's not really "cooking" but rather getting some of the starch off the pasta. I do it every time and it's quite effective.

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      Not really sure that's the scientific effect of blanching pasta... also that's not how it's explained in the post. :)

                                      Either way - I'm not keen to add steps unless they're necessary. As long as you let the lasagna sheets dry to leathery stage they'll hold up no problem and always come out perfectly al dente. I do it all the time. :)

                                      Maybe you're having to do all this extra work because you're using an egg dough instead of kneading it to form the proper gluten.

                                      1. re: JetLaggedChef

                                        I definitely use an egg dough and the "extra work" is about five minutes so not anything at all in the grand scheme of things.

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          If you can make water boil in 5 minutes, you should consider patenting that technology. :P

                                          I suppose you don't spend anytime washing the extra pot or towels either.

                                          1. re: JetLaggedChef

                                            Actually I have an induction cooktop so I can boil water in FAR under five minutes. I think others have already patented that. Towel goes in with the next hot water load and the pot gets a quick swipe when I'm generally cleaning up. So that's maybe 15 seconds.

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              Well that is just the cat's pajamas :)